Pennsylvania House Republicans, Union Want Zabel to Resign over Harassment Allegations

Pennsylvania House Republicans and a union representing many social service workers are calling on State Representative Mike Zabel (D-Drexel Hill) to resign over allegations he sexually harassed one of that union’s lobbyists. 

Andi Perez, the political director of the Pennsylvania and Delaware Division of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), is accusing Zabel of inappropriately touching her and not immediately relenting after she backed away from him. 

House Minority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Quarryville) issued a joint statement with other GOP members of the House leadership, opining that the accusation ought to be believed and should lead to the third-term lawmaker’s resignation. 

“Rep. Mike Zabel should resign immediately,” the statement read. “In 2018, our colleagues on the other side of the aisle said, ‘Anyone accused of a credible violation like this should resign their position.’ Now that a member of their caucus has been credibly accused of multiple and serious incidents of sexual harassment, it would be our hope that Democrats would join us in calling on Representative Zabel to resign.”

The 2018 quote comes from a declaration house Democratic leaders made regarding former State Representative Nick Miccarelli (R-Ridley Park), who would resign that year after two women accused him of sexual assault. The Republican statement went on to complain that Democrats have countenanced Zabel despite allegations by other women, including at least one legislator, anonymously telling the press that Zabel has harassed them. 

Democrats have meanwhile touted the adoption of House rules that strengthen anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies. Under earlier rules, only chamber members and staffers could file complaints against lawmakers for alleged sexual misconduct; the expanded policy will allow anyone engaging with the legislature in an official capacity to request an investigation formally. All Republicans voted against the new rules package because of other provisions unrelated to sexual misconduct, while all Democrats, including Zabel, voted for it.

Perez herself lauded state House Democrats for the rule changes. 

“I am proud that sharing my story created real, tangible, and systemic change in the legislature to give victims of harassment an avenue for justice,” Perez wrote in a statement on the SEIU PA website. “I especially want to thank House Speaker [Joanna] McClinton (D-Philadelphia), former House Speaker [Mark] Rozzi (D-Temple), and House Democratic leadership who worked on this issue. They have established some of the strongest anti-harassment accountability measures in ANY legislative chamber across the country. [Caps in original.]”

Perez’s organization has joined her in asking that Zabel leave office. 

“Our union is proud that Andi Perez shared her story & the PA House enacted systemic change against sexual harassment,” SEIU Local 668 tweeted on Thursday. “@SEIUPA and @seiu668 call on Mike Zabel to resign.”

While neither the House Democratic Caucus nor Zabel responded to a request for comment, early indications suggest the Delaware County-based representative won’t easily find support within his own party to keep his job. 

“It takes courage to speak the truth, espec. in the dome of corruption, infested w/ historic misogyny & rape culture,” state Senator Katie Muth (D-Royersford) wrote in a Twitter post. “Often those who tell the truth get dismissed by those w/ the power to ensure accountability. Andi: thank you for your bravery.” 

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Pennsylvania Daily Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].



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